NHRA: Anderson wins 4th of ’15, Stoffer over Sampey in 3rd all-female final in NHRA history; Kalitta, Beckman also win

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As the NHRA hit the mid-point of its 24-race season this weekend, things are going to get even hotter over the next six races as the series closes in on the six-race Countdown to the Championship playoffs

Sunday’s final eliminations of the Summit Racing Equipment Nationals was a good sample of what’s to come, as Doug Kalitta (Top Fuel), Jack Beckman (Funny Car), Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) and Karen Stoffer (Pro Stock Motorcycle) took home wins in Norwalk, Ohio.

Anderson earned his fourth win of the season, Beckman earned his third win of 2015 and Kalitta and Stoffer each earned their second wins of the season at Summit Motorsports Park.

Driving the Summit Racing Chevrolet Camaro, Anderson (6.592 seconds at 212.19 mph) earned the 78th win of his career, defeating rookie Drew Skillman (6.594 at 211.43) in the final round.

“We come here with high hopes,” Anderson said in an NHRA media release. “We want to do so well in front of all the folks from Summit here.

“You put a lot of pressure on yourself. I keep saying it, ‘Most people would come in and say we don’t want that pressure, we’re going to dread this weekend. It’s just going to be too much stress.’ We love it.”

Anderson took the Pro Stock points lead back from defending champ Erica Enders, who qualified No. 1 but was upset in Sunday’s opening round. Anderson now leads Enders by 60 points.

“There is so much competition in this class,” Anderson said. “It is such a battle every weekend. It is so hard to win and it feels so good when you do win. I’m having a ball.

“It’s a dog fight every week. You feel fantastic at the end of the day if you can find a way to win, to conquer it. This is no less gratifying than it was with my very first win back in 2001.”

In Funny Car, Beckman (4.211 seconds at 31.67 mph) earned his 18th career NHRA win after defeating Courtney Force (4.609 at 199.64) in the final round.

Beckman won the 2012 NHRA Funny Car championship, but went winless in 2013 and 2014. New crew chief Jimmy Prock has been a key factor in Beckman’s wins this season at Charlotte, Topeka and now Norfolk.

“This race was awesome for what we had to overcome and the fact that we beat all of the Force cars,” said Beckman, who defeated 16-time champ John Force in the first round, Robert Hight in the second round, Tim Wilkerson in the third and then Courtney Force. “It was a fabulous win.”

Beckman’s second career win at Norwalk moved him into third place in the Funny Car standings.

In Top Fuel, Kalitta earned his 37th career win (3.823 seconds at 322.34 mph) by defeating points leader Antron Brown (3.918 at 307.79).

“This is our hometown track and it was great having a lot of family and close friends here, so it doesn’t get much better than that,” said Kalitta, whose team is based in Ypsilanti, Mich. “Even my mom actually showed up.

“I think she’s only shown up one other time in my entire career. She watches it on TV quite a bit but doesn’t come too often. I’m going to have to tell her that she has to come out [again since] we won with her here.”

Perhaps the most notable showdown of the day came in Pro Stock Motorcycle, the third pro final round in NHRA history that pitted two female competitors against each other.

Stoffer earned her eighth career NHRA win by defeating four former PSM champions in Sunday’s eliminations: Matt Smith, Eddie Krawiec, LE Tonglet in the semifinals and Angelle Sampey, who fouled with a red-light start in the final round.

The win moved Stoffer into fifth place in the PSM rankings, just 105 points behind series leader Eddie Krawiec.

“I’m still pinching myself, but we never planned how this season was going to go,” Stoffer said. “I didn’t think I’d be here for a second. We just wanted to put our best foot forward, and to end up winning, that is icing on the cake.”

It was the second final round meeting between Sampey and Stoffer. Sampey won the first time back in 2002 in Reading, Pa.

The only other NHRA pro series final to feature two females against each other came in 1982 when three-time Top Fuel champ Shirley Muldowney defeated Lucille Lee in Columbus, Ohio.

The next race is next weekend (July 9-12) with the Route 66 Nationals at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Ill.

FINAL FINISHING ORDER:

TOP FUEL: 1.  Doug Kalitta; 2.  Antron Brown; 3.  Clay Millican; 4.  Tony Schumacher; 5.  Shawn Langdon; 6. Larry Dixon; 7.  Brittany Force; 8.  Steve Torrence; 9.  Leah Pritchett; 10.  Dave Connolly; 11. Terry McMillen; 12.  Pat Dakin; 13.  J.R. Todd; 14.  Chris Karamesines; 15.  Cory McClenathan; 16. Spencer Massey.

FUNNY CAR: 1.  Jack Beckman; 2.  Courtney Force; 3.  Del Worsham; 4.  Tim Wilkerson; 5.  Matt Hagan; 6. Robert Hight; 7.  Cruz Pedregon; 8.  Alexis DeJoria; 9.  Ron Capps; 10.  Chad Head; 11.  John Bojec; 12.  Tony Pedregon; 13.  John Hale; 14.  John Force; 15.  Tommy Johnson Jr.; 16.  Jeff Diehl.

PRO STOCK: 1.  Greg Anderson; 2.  Drew Skillman; 3.  Jason Line; 4.  Chris McGaha; 5.  Larry Morgan; 6. Jonathan Gray; 7.  Rodger Brogdon; 8.  Alan Prusiensky; 9.  Vincent Nobile; 10.  Bo Butner; 11. Shane Gray; 12.  Allen Johnson; 13.  Curt Steinbach; 14.  V. Gaines; 15.  Erica Enders; 16.  John Gaydosh Jr.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: 1.  Karen Stoffer; 2.  Angelle Sampey; 3.  Chip Ellis; 4.  LE Tonglet; 5.  Andrew Hines; 6.  Jim Underdahl; 7.  Eddie Krawiec; 8.  Angie Smith; 9.  Jerry Savoie; 10.  Hector Arana; 11.  Matt Smith; 12.  Chaz Kennedy; 13.  Steve Johnson; 14.  Joe DeSantis; 15.  Hector Arana Jr; 16.  Scotty Pollacheck.

FINAL RESULTS:

Top Fuel: Doug Kalitta, 3.823 seconds, 322.34 mph  def. Antron Brown, 3.918 seconds, 307.79 mph.

Funny Car: Jack Beckman, Dodge Charger, 4.211, 301.67  def. Courtney Force, Chevy Camaro, 4.609, 199.64.

Pro Stock: Greg Anderson, Chevy Camaro, 6.592, 212.19  def. Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.594, 211.43.

Pro Stock Motorcycle: Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 6.984, 193.10  def. Angelle Sampey, Buell, foul.

FINAL ROUND-BY-ROUND RESULTS:

TOP FUEL: ROUND ONE — Shawn Langdon, 3.794, 318.09 def. Leah Pritchett, 3.790, 324.05; Brittany Force, 3.797, 324.90 def. Pat Dakin, 3.891, 294.63; Larry Dixon, 3.757, 332.51 def. Dave Connolly, 3.849, 323.43; Antron Brown, 3.796, 324.67 def. Terry McMillen, 3.859, 319.14; Doug Kalitta, 3.774, 326.40 def. Chris Karamesines, 3.967, 307.02; Tony Schumacher, 3.798, 326.00 def. Cory McClenathan, 4.127, 256.84; Clay Millican, 3.868, 315.71 def. Spencer Massey, 4.351, 206.61; Steve Torrence, 3.783, 323.97 def. J.R. Todd, 3.956, 244.65; QUARTERFINALS — Brown, 3.971, 277.49 def. Force, 4.326, 215.93; Schumacher, 3.829, 321.65 def. Langdon, 4.126, 233.56; Millican, 3.983, 309.42 def. Dixon, 4.324, 197.13; Kalitta, 3.846, 321.12 def. Torrence, 4.930, 153.46; SEMIFINALS — Kalitta, 3.849, 322.19 def. Millican, 3.879, 315.64; Brown, 3.887, 315.86 def. Schumacher, 4.044, 265.22; FINAL — Kalitta, 3.823, 322.34 def. Brown, 3.918, 307.79.

FUNNY CAR: ROUND ONE — Alexis DeJoria, Toyota Camry, 4.090, 312.57 def. Tommy Johnson Jr., Dodge Charger, 5.146, 157.14; Robert Hight, Chevrolet Camaro, 4.078, 316.97 def. Tony Pedregon, Camry, 4.304, 244.87; Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 4.049, 316.90 def. John Hale, Charger, 4.452, 210.64; Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.081, 313.15 def. John Bojec, Toyota Solara, 4.208, 297.29; Del Worsham, Camry, 4.115, 308.35 def. Jeff Diehl, Solara, broke; Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.063, 314.02 def. John Force, Chevy Camaro, 4.657, 188.70; Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 4.090, 314.83 def. Chad Head, Camry, 4.159, 306.67; Courtney Force, Camaro, 4.069, 319.82 def. Ron Capps, Charger, 4.066, 312.93; QUARTERFINALS — Worsham, 4.145, 306.67 def. DeJoria, 9.558, 81.34; Wilkerson, 4.528, 206.80 def. C. Pedregon, 5.720, 123.34; Beckman, 4.104, 311.56 def. Hight, 4.173, 274.72; C. Force, 4.097, 317.49 def. Hagan, 4.153, 305.29; SEMIFINALS — Beckman, 4.141, 285.59 def. Wilkerson, 5.026, 162.25; C. Force, 4.143, 314.46 def. Worsham, 4.336, 226.51; FINAL — Beckman, 4.211, 301.67 def. C. Force, 4.609, 199.64.

PRO STOCK: ROUND ONE — Drew Skillman, Chevy Camaro, 6.567, 211.26 def. Shane Gray, Camaro, 6.582, 211.89; Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.553, 211.76 def. Allen Johnson, Dodge Dart, 6.592, 210.47; Rodger Brogdon, Camaro, 6.555, 211.69 def. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.578, 211.66; Jason Line, Camaro, 6.550, 211.66 def. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.557, 211.79; Larry Morgan, Camaro, 6.578, 212.19 def. V. Gaines, Dart, 9.007, 102.49; Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.577, 211.13 def. John Gaydosh Jr, Chevrolet Camaro, 13.272, 65.31; Alan Prusiensky, Dodge Avenger, 6.704, 206.67 def. Erica Enders, Camaro, 9.776, 94.97; Jonathan Gray, Camaro, 6.566, 210.50 def. Curt Steinbach, Camaro, 6.955, 186.48; QUARTERFINALS — Skillman, 6.592, 211.10 def. Prusiensky, 6.775, 205.66; McGaha, 23.907, 29.32 def. Brogdon, foul; Anderson, 6.575, 211.46 def. J. Gray, 6.620, 210.11; Line, 6.583, 210.73 def. Morgan, 6.583, 211.63; SEMIFINALS — Skillman, 6.588, 211.36 def. Line, 6.568, 211.69; Anderson, 6.594, 211.83 def. McGaha, 8.841, 107.77; FINAL — Anderson, 6.592, 212.19 def. Skillman, 6.594, 211.43.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: ROUND ONE Angelle Sampey, Buell, 6.890, 194.21 def. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.881, 194.88; LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.976, 193.99 def. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.982, 192.88; Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, 6.918, 195.39 def. Hector Arana, Buell, 6.944, 195.31; Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.902, 192.69 def. Scotty Pollacheck, Buell, broke; Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 6.922, 194.63 def. Matt Smith, 6.974, 192.91; Angie Smith, 7.095, 188.75 def. Hector Arana Jr, Buell, 7.312, 146.32; Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.880, 195.17 def. Chaz Kennedy, Buell, 6.977, 192.19; Chip Ellis, Buell, 6.872, 196.76 def. Joe DeSantis, Suzuki, 7.089, 190.86; QUARTERFINALS — Sampey, 6.951, 192.93 def. Hines, 6.955, 192.58; Tonglet, 6.944, 194.35 def. A. Smith, 7.098, 188.44; Ellis, 6.892, 195.70 def. Underdahl, 6.982, 193.16; Stoffer, 6.972, 193.68 def. Krawiec, 6.997, 190.48; SEMIFINALS — Stoffer, 6.937, 193.63 def. Tonglet, 6.942, 194.24; Sampey, 6.948, 194.30 def. Ellis, 6.910, 194.52; FINAL — Stoffer, 6.984, 193.10 def. Sampey, foul.

UPDATED POINT STANDINGS:

Top Fuel: 1.  Antron Brown, 925; 2.  Tony Schumacher, 905; 3.  Doug Kalitta, 791; 4.  Richie Crampton, 764; 5.  Larry Dixon, 754; 6.  Spencer Massey, 730; 7.  Shawn Langdon, 674; 8.  Brittany Force, 641; 9. J.R. Todd, 597; 10.  Clay Millican, 583.

Funny Car: 1.  Matt Hagan, 932; 2.  Ron Capps, 812; 3.  Jack Beckman, 782; 4.  Del Worsham, 781; 5.  John Force, 748; 6.  Tommy Johnson Jr., 680; 7.  Cruz Pedregon, 657; 8.  Tim Wilkerson, 642; 9.  Robert Hight, 633; 10.  Alexis DeJoria, 626.

Pro Stock: 1.  Greg Anderson, 1,065; 2.  Erica Enders, 1,005; 3.  Jason Line, 900; 4.  Chris McGaha, 831; 5. Drew Skillman, 666; 6.  Larry Morgan, 629; 7.  Allen Johnson, 622; 8.  Shane Gray, 615; 9.  Vincent Nobile, 597; 10.  Rodger Brogdon, 580.

Pro Stock Motorcycle: 1.  Eddie Krawiec, 375; 2.  Hector Arana Jr, 322; 3.  Andrew Hines, 320; 4.  Hector Arana, 291; 5. Karen Stoffer, 270; 6.  Jim Underdahl, 258; 7.  Scotty Pollacheck, 239; 8.  Jerry Savoie, 236; 9. LE Tonglet, 230; 10.  Angelle Sampey, 224.

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Toyota No. 8 car wins the 24 Hours of Le Mans for third consecutive year

24 Hours of Le Mans
JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER/AFP via Getty Images
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LE MANS, France — Toyota Gazoo’s No. 8 car comfortably won the 24 Hours of Le Mans by five laps Sunday to secure a third straight victory in the prestigious endurance race.

It was also a third consecutive win for Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi and Japan’s Kazuki Nakajima driving. Brendon Hartley was the other driver, having replaced two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso.

Buemi and Hartley sat on the side of the car as Nakajima drove toward the podium. Hartley won for a second time after tasting success with the Porsche LMP Team in 2017 before an unhappy season in Formula One.

The Swiss team’s Rebellion No. 1 featured American driver Gustavo Menezes and Brazilian Bruno Senna – the nephew of late F1 great Ayrton Senna.

It finished one lap ahead of Toyota Gazoo’s No. 7, with Rebellion’s No. 3 finishing in fourth place.

For much of the race it looked like Toyota’s No. 7 would win after leading comfortably from pole position. But late into the night the car encountered an engine problem and the 30-minute stop in the stands proved costly.

The race was first held in 1923. A total of 252,500 spectators attended in 2019, but there were none this year when the race started three months late because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“We miss the fans,” New Zealander Hartley said. “I look forward to seeing all the fans again.”

In other divisions:

United Autosports won the LMP2 division with the entry of Filipe Albuquerque, Paul Di Resta and Phil Hanson.

–In LMGTE Pro, the victory was claimed by Aston Martin Vantage AMR of Maxime Martin, Alex Lynn and Harry Tincknell (who drives for Mazda in the DPi division of IMSA).

–TF Sport won the LMGTE Am class.

The Toyota No. 7 took pole after former F1 driver Kamui Kobayashi narrowly edged out the Rebellion No. 1 team in qualifying.

In damp and humid conditions Mike Conway got away cleanly from the start, while Senna held off Buemi.

After nearly seven hours, Toyota’s No. 8 fell back after a 10-minute stop in the stands to fix a brake-cooling problem on Kazuki Nakajima’s car. Rebellion’s No. 1, driven by Frenchman Norman Nato, took advantage to move into second place behind Toyota’s No. 7.

Then came the decisive moment at 2:40 a.m. as the No. 7 – also featuring Argentine Jose Maria Lopez – encountered a turbo problem. When the car came back out it was back in fourth.

“We had a few problems early in the race,” Nakajima said. “Later they had a bigger issue than us.”

Rebellion’s No. 1 encountered a problem on the hood at around 9 a.m. and the change took six minutes, allowing the Rebellion No. 3 (Nathanael Berthon-Louis Deletraz-Romain Dumas) to close the gap.

It was becoming a tight battle between the two Rebellion cars behind Toyota’s No. 8.

At 12 p.m. Rebellion No. 3 with Dumas behind the wheel was only one second ahead of No. 1 driven by Menezes. Then both cars came in for a driver change with Deletraz swapping for Dumas on a lengthy stop, and Nato for Menezes as Rebellion No. 1 suddenly moved ahead of its team rival.

Dumas, a winner in 2016 with Porsche, appeared unhappy at the strategy decision to bring his car in first and the length of the stop. There were tense explanations in the team garage.

Colombian Tatiana Calderon, an F1 test driver with Alfa Romeo, was in the Richard Mille Racing Team in the LMP2 category. She was joined by German Sophia Florsch – an F3 driver – and Dutchwoman Beitske Visser. They placed ninth out of 24 in their category.